Coming home from Namibia, I have never felt so relaxed and at ease. And feeling peaceful on a 15 hour flight home (in economy) is no small feat! This short holiday totally recharged me – a feeling that I’ve been chasing on trips since. It was probably luck, but I’ve got to say I think we hit the nail on the head with our Namibia itinerary.
There’s so many incredible areas in Namibia, but it’s a huge country and in a week you can really only do two things well. Take my word for it, deciding what to include on your Namibia itinerary may well be the hardest part of your trip!!
Despite hearing amazing things, we decided to pass on Sossusvlei, Walvis Bay and the likes. Instead we combined the classic Etosha National Park safari with a lesser known part of Namibia, spending three incredible days walking through the unforgettable Namibrand desert.
This Namibia itinerary reminded me that it’s possible to experience so much without running around like a crazy person, squeezing things in left, right and centre. This week long itinerary would be perfect on it’s own, or better yet tacked onto a holiday in one of Namibia’s neighbouring countries (it’s super super easy to get there from South Africa!).
But hang on a minute.. Southern Africa offers so much – why Namibia?
I’m just going to put it out there – I am IN LOVE with Southern Africa.
On this trip, we had a week to spare before a wedding in South Africa and wanted to explore more of the region. Our choice to head to Namibia was pretty random… It wasn’t really on our radar… until it was. Then, the more I learned about Namibia, the more I wanted to go.
Unlike it’s neighbours, Namibia is relatively affordable and surprisingly easy to get around.
Sure, chartered flights exist – but even a short itinerary won’t rely on them to make your trip possible.
It’s very well connected to other African capitals thanks to its flagship carrier Air Namibia, and you can even catch a direct flight from Frankfurt 6-7 times per week. No jokes!
Etosha National Park is spectacular.
Despite arguably being Namibia’s crowning jewel, Etosha is much less visited than the big parks in SA, Botswana, Tanzania and Kenya – yet it has so much to offer. We were enthralled at the thought of sitting around one of the parks many waterholes, waiting for the animals to come to us. Much more relaxing than thundering around the place like we’d done on previous safaris.
Every little thing that came up on Google left me fascinated. And (spoiler alert!) we were not disappointed.
How about sand dunes you can see from space?
No, I’m not kidding – you can see them here. Totally other-worldly.
Africa’s only International Dark Sky Reserve.
The stars shine so brightly, that on nights 5-6 of our Namibia itinerary they may keep you awake – as you’ll be sleeping under them. Seriously!
It’s all thanks to the fact that Namibia is the second most sparsely populated country in the world, beaten only by Mongolia!!
An unforgettable experience to seal the deal.
When I stumbled onto Tok Tokkie Trails, I just knew it would be an incredibly special few days. The very little information I could find on this captivated me. Even though I’m not usually a walker (and my boyfriend typically hates walking), I just knew this was the kind of thing we’d remember forever. And sometimes a truely special experience is worth creating an itinerary around.
The ultimate seven day Namibia itinerary
Day 1: Arrive in Windhoek – drive to Etosha NP
Welcomed by a sweet little ‘tin shed’ airport and millions of squashed bugs on the tarmac, you’ll just know you’re in for an adventure!
After collecting your car, head into Windhoek to pick up some groceries and grab a bite to eat. You’ll be in the car a lot for the next couple of weeks – so bottled water, road trip snacks (and maybe a few beers to put in the fridge) will come in handy. You can read my tips on driving in Namibia here.
Drive time: about 6 hours (land in Windhoek as early as can, you’ll want to arrive at Etosha before dusk).
Etosha Accomodation: Onguma the Fort.
We’d heard a lot about the accomodation inside the park, overlooking waterholes at night. We we so glad that we didn’t stay there. Not only was The Fort amazing, but we’d heard from a lot of people that the accomodation inside the park was run down and not serviced particularly well. And we didn’t miss out on the waterhole experience. At the Fort, you’ll eat on the deck overlooking their own little waterhole.
Days 2-3: Etosha National Park
The Fort runs morning game drives into Etosha, and they’re very much worth doing on both days. You’ll see so much more with a guide, and even if this isn’t your first Safari the little bits of information you’ll learn from your guide will give you a much greater appreciation for both the bush and animals.
We were lucky enough to see one of the Rhino’s the drivers knew well – an old guy who’s ear was almost torn to shreds from fighting. Extra special given the current poaching situation.
In the afternoon, the Fort runs game drives around their own park and it’s worth doing this on your first afternoon. They may not have the big 5 in their reserve, but you’ll have the chance to see nocturnal animals, and you just can’t beat game drive sundowners.
On your second afternoon, hang onto your Etosha entry pass and head back into the park (you’ll have to pay for your car entry, but your personal passes last for the day). By now you should roughly know your way around – so cruise around for a while before picking your favourite waterhole and watch things unfold.
After sitting by a waterhole for an hour or so, we noticed the giraffe and other game becoming unsettled, before a leopard casually walked up for a drink. A sight to behold, and a great reward for the patience you don’t get to exercise when you’re on a game drive with a group.
Day 4: Start the drive to the Namibrand
The drive from Etosha to the Namibrand is 12 hours, so we’ll break it up into two days. Especially as you’ll need to be at Tok Tokkie on Day 5 for a 2pm start.
You can head back into Etosha for the morning before departure, or if you’d prefer a relaxing road trip then I’d recommend leaving the Fort right after breakfast.
Today you’ll drive most of the way, heading back through Windhoek and on to Kalkrand.
Teufelskrallen Tented Lodge is conveniently placed to break the trip, and a lovely place to spend the afternoon enjoying a sundowner on your room’s observation deck, overlooking the beautiful Kalahri scenery. There’s not much around, but your rate includes dinner and breakfast.
You’ll have to cart your bags about 50 meters across the dune to your room, but the view and serenity makes this totally worthwhile.
Day 5-6: Tok Tokkie Trails
On day 5, wake up early for breakfast and leave straight after, as you’ll need to be at Tok Tokkie for 2pm. There you’ll meet your guide and the rest of your group, and have lunch over a briefing before setting off.
Tok Tokkie Trails is the experience that cemented my resolve to head to Namibia. It was probably the highlight of our Namibia itinerary, and something I’ve recommended relentlessly to my friends and family.
This experience is just something else. Walking aside, you’ll spend two cosy nights eating food you won’t believe came from a camp oven, sleeping under the stars AND they’ll even wake you with coffee in bed.
I mean, come on – what could be more special?
This experience is so spectacular, I had to write a seperate post on it – 6 reasons you need to walk the Tok Tokkie Trails.
Day 7: Back to Windhoek
You’ll finish the walk mid morning, and from there head straight back to Windhoek.
We don’t recommend spending any time in the city. In fact, the other guests on our walk were 4 ladies from Windhoek. When we asked if there was anything we should do in the city that afternoon, their suggestion was to go to the movies. Soooo, skip the town and head to a lodge just outside (preferably on the way to the airport) to make for a relaxing final night and easy getaway.
We stayed at the Voightland Guesthouse, run by a lovely husband and wife team. Gabby cooked an amazing dinner for us – we were their only guests that evening and it was like being welcomed into their home (in a non obtrusive way!).
A trip I’m still trying to recreate!
Whenever I’m asked ‘what has been your best vacation’, I don’t even have to think about my answer – Namibia! Considering we’ve been really lucky to have some amazing holidays throughout the years, that’s quite surprising to some people.
I can’t recommend this Namibia itinerary highly enough. Truth be told, I’m still trying to work out what it is about this trip that just melted away all my work stress in such a short amount of time. My best guess is that it was the combination of being completely offline (forcibly) in wide open, empty spaces with the perfect blend of ‘active’ and ‘relaxed’ days. Also, as a morning person I adore a safari schedule. Early mornings are bliss (in my opinion, anyway)!
If you’ve got more time, add something else in (heading towards the west coast – maybe Swakopmund or Walvis Bay – would mix up the drive a bit without taking you too far off course).